Developing Teachers Utilization of Interactive Whiteboards

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Developing Teachers Utilization of Interactive Whiteboards ...

    Developing Teachers’ Utilization of Interactive Whiteboards

    Abstract: This study investigates the current situations and Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) use in

    instructional settings by means of a literature review. It provides comprehensive information about

    what IWBs are, which kinds of features they have, how they can be used to promote the learners‟

    understanding. It is also crucial to unveil the pros and cons of IWBs explicitly. In order to more

    effective usage, especially disadvantages of IWB should be well analyzed and then removed to be

    able to find any prospective solution. The ways of using IWBs are an important issue that needs to

    be delved. Consequently, this study, which is going to be a first stage of a long-term project,

    focuses on which ways teachers utilize or should utilize IWBs in their courses. Therefore, it will

    enable researchers both to design interactive training packages for teachers and to find out the

    effectiveness regarding learning and interaction for students for latter studies.

    Dr. Yalın Kılıç Türel

    College of Education

    Department of Computer Education & Instructional Technology

    Fırat University

    Elazığ, Turkey


    As Lasso (2001) stated that millennium generation or in another word MTV generation kids who have been mostly learned in front of TV screen learn differently than before and this screen is better than a blackboard. He emphasized that technology should help teachers teach this generation. One of the most helpful technologies can be “interactive whiteboards” in this transforming teaching and learning processes.

    Interactive whiteboards (IWBs), defined as new generations‟ touch-sensitive boards working in conjunction

    with a computer and a projector, have been introduced into many educational and traditional institutes in all over the world recently. A great amount of money has been invested rapidly and substantially in supporting education in accordance with integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) into instructional settings particularly for the last years (Smith, Higgins, Wall & Miller, 2005). This technology that can be integrated in classroom settings easily enables teachers to interact with the content or materials in front of the students instead of sitting back of the computer screen also allows students to deal with the electronic content similar to interaction with a traditional blackboard (Ashfield & Wood, 2008).

    Teachers should make use of any outstanding presentation methods or tools to get students‟ attention. With

    the integration of IWB into instructional settings gives a chance to present a variety of sources to students with active participation of the students. One of the most prominent features of IWBs is its flexible structure that allows users to use the ability of flip back and forward depending on the needs of the teacher and students within the course (Smith et al, 2005). Moreover, all those records can be accessed by learners and teachers either over Internet or as separated file on any location. IWBs also offer performing active learning strategies such as critical thinking, reflection, collaboration, and discussion about any content on the board by adding comments or manipulating pictures in the classroom. In many studies, it has been proved that these kinds of approaches are effective and promoting for learning.

    There would be better ways to use IWBs effectively if the advantages and disadvantages of this technology were well known. Hence, there are some issues waiting for solutions about disadvantageous dimensions of IWBs. Technical problems concerning installing, positioning, or initiating of IWB may negatively affect the streaming of instruction (Gerard & Widener, 2000). Another problem stressed in various studies is that teachers should make an enduring effort to design challenging content for IWB and to use appropriate pedagogical approaches with IWB. It is clear that such effort can be highly stressful for teachers (BECTA, 2003; Cogill, 2002). That‟s why teachers may

    not be willing to use such technology in their classes consistently. As a matter of fact, in their research, Gürel and her friends (2007) expressed that more than 80% of professors in a government university never used IWBs in their courses. Similarly, in another study, teachers declared that they hadn‟t used IWBs even once in their courses in

    2005-2006 although their classrooms were provided with all required IWB apparatus (Smith, 2008). It is vital to break down the resistances of teachers towards such technologies. Therefore, teacher training can be a remarkable

    solution to this problem as well. Teachers ought to be elucidated about pedagogical strategies and techniques going along with IWB flawlessly in this regard. They should also be informed about how many ways there are in terms of IWB usage and which ways are the most convenient ones under special circumstances. Classifications of these methods and integration those into academic training program can be helpful for teachers. There is a great number of studies collected data about perceptions of teachers (Cogill, 2002; Miller, Glover & Averis, 2003; Beauchamp & Prakinson, 2005). The hands-on experiences and point of views of teachers gives opportunities to analyze the problems and needs and to design better instructional program based on requirements for teachers. Consequently, in order to develop the effective IWB use for institutions, this study reviewed the literature focusing on IWBs.

Status Quo and Use of IWB

    Interactive whiteboard (IWB) called digital, smart or electronic board has been one of the most essential parts of technology used in educational settings for especially last five years. The importance and effectiveness of IWBs for the classrooms have been understood, more investments are done on it in all over the world. That‟s why;

    most of the countries have invested a great deal of money on IWBs recently. UK spent ?50 million for buying IWB over 2003-2004 years (Ashfield & Wood, 2008). BESA (2009) in its ICT 2009 reports stated that there are almost 177,000 IWB (average 8.6 units per school) in primary schools and 105,000 (average 25.2 per school) in secondary schools in UK in 2009. Italy has gone an attack to introduce its teachers and students with IWB in the context of a national project called „Digiscuola‟. Italian Ministry of Education is planning to train more than 20.000 teachers

    concerning adoption and using of IWB with a three years plan and large amount of investments (INDIRE, 2010). Australia, in 2007, advertised that it would invest A$66 million to set interactive whiteboards up in all schools by 2011 (Holmes, 2009). In Turkey, several IWB projects have been embarked on recently. By 2011, all of the schools in Fatih, a county of Istanbul, will have been introduced to IWB as part of pilot IWB project with support of Turkish Ministry of National Education while it has been installed in many schools in all over the Turkey (MEB, 2010). One of the research companies, Wainhouse Research forecasts IWB market both educational and training will expand from $886.5 million in 2009 to $1.98 billion in 2014 (Greenberg, 2009).

    Although a huge amount of investments are devoted to integration of ICT in many countries, lack of training concerning ICT use in classrooms is striking as a vital problem (BECTA, 2004; Levy, 2002; Somyürek, Atasoy, & Özdemir, 2009). Therefore governments pay attention to ICT training to generalize its efficient usage since unoccupied IWBs mean wastage of source and money for countries. In one research, it is stressed that over 80% of professors in a university never used IWBs (Gürel et al., 2007) while Smith (2008) asserts that teachers who have IWBs in their classrooms admitted they hadn‟t used IWBs even once in their courses. IWB sellers typically provide a brief IWB usage training for a couple of hours at most. Teachers state that they make use of IWB in their courses with limited features of it such as mimicking mouse or highlighting and they are not aware of or not using higher level IWB techniques (Beauchamp, 2004). That‟s why teachers need more support regarding how IWB uses

    both pedagogically and technically (Moss et al., 2007). For instance, with the conscious of this necessity, BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Association) was founded in order to provide comprehensive suggestions about such technologies purchase and efficient use in UK.

    One of the most essential things for schools is to understand how to encourage all of the teachers to adopt the use of ICT as a regular part of teaching (Betcher & Lee, 2009). Although several problems affect efficient use of IWB, many studies refer to IWBs‟ successful utilization in educational settings (BECTA, 2003). Studies reveal that

    teachers and learners using IWB have positive attitudes towards it (Smith et al., 2005). Moreover, IWB reinforces a myriad of essential variables such as interaction, active learning, achievement, motivation, and attention (Glover, Miller, Averis, & Door 2007). However, there are still insufficient empirical studies on students‟ achievement and attainment. Furthermore, research does not reveal obviously required details for professional development and training (Hutchinson, 2007).

IWBs Features and Types

    Director of Smartboard notes, Used correctly, whiteboards should raise outputs and to improve things … I

    move towards a system where there is more time for teachers to reflect, evaluate good practice and look deeper into practical uses in lessons about the general perspectives of IWBs (Nightingale, 2006). It was touched upon

    requirements of teachers‟ development in previous heading. Then what is „correct IWB use‟? Before going over this

    issue, it should be understood what IWBs can do or what teachers can do with IWB. It should be kept in mind that teachers should have basic skills about computers, software and technology being able to be used in classroom before becoming a professional IWB user (Cogill, 2002; Levy, 2002). IWBs have a number of features however, teachers use them depend on training both they had before and their levels. A variety of features are also affiliated to subject type and curriculum of the course (Moss et al., 2007). What the important thing for promoting IWB use is that teachers should be aware of general features of IWB and the ways to use them efficiently. These features and ways are (Brown, 2003, Hall & Higgins, 2005; Smart, 2006; Bell, 2002):

; annotation and highlighting important points,

    ; mouse operations (drag and drop, single or double click, selection etc.),

    ; hiding and revealing objects,

    ; coloring to distinguish different items,

    ; controlling display of animations/videos/other software (such as PowerPoint, Word, Flash etc.), ; storing courses and materials and retrieving them later,

    ; using and navigating Internet application and manipulation (highlight, annotate) them from the board, ; quick and seamless revision of course content,

    ; creating drawing, notes, concept maps etc. by the stylus (the special IWB pen) or fingers (for just some models), ; offering all the same features as a traditional board, and

    ; recognition of handwriting (via IWB software).

    As well as those specifications of IWBs, another popular area of usage is it‟s connectivity to the different technologies such as video conferencing systems, and servers via IP connection. Almost all brand new IWBs support this kind of connection over software. These servers that IWB users connect are also storing all catalogues including teachers‟ work. Such specialties may differ from brand to brand and from type to type of IWB. Therefore, it is necessary to give some information about technical structure of IWBs so that users can determine the appropriateness for their needs and use it more efficiently by minimizing the technical problems.

    There are typically three types of IWBs: Resistive membrane (passive whiteboards), solid state (active) whiteboards, and infrared (ultrasound or laser scanner) whiteboards (BECTA, 2004, Brown, 2003). On the other hand, there are a variety of new technologies such as plasma overlay, multi-touch, smart table, and Wii Remote. In addition to computer and projector, there are some other peripherals that can be utilized with IWBs such as interactive panels and voting systems.

Advantages and Challenges of IWBs

    In order to develop the utilization of IWB, teachers should know about strengths and weaknesses of IWBs completely. There are a number of studies that investigate pros and cons of IWBs. The fundamentals of these issues are summarized below.

Advantages of IWBs

    IWB is an excellent demonstration tool that can execute applications from the board using a finger or a pen. Important points in any subject and for any age group can be marked up or annotated easily with IWB. Research shows that students react positively to colorful manipulations, highlighting, and drawings. IWB can address all kinds of learning styles. For instance, visual learners can observe what is being done and tactile learners can enjoy touching the board (Bell, 2002). IWBs also allow teachers to use a wide range of media from a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation to a web page or complex software while they allow students to join in discussion as a group and to collaborate with each other on a shared task and finally to learn more meaningfully (Brown, 2003). Instructional materials special for IWBs may develop a variety of learning ways for both teachers and learners (Gerard & Widener, 2000). Teachers can zoom the board for students who are visually-impaired or have shortness of sight (Smith, 2008). Levy (2002) asserts that pupils find IWB lessons faster paced and more fun. Especially highlights and annotations teachers draw and write onto visual images help students remember and learn better. IWBs support distance learning by enabling teachers to transfer their course content created during the course to cyber world. In a classroom, one computer set may be sufficient for all students and therefore having an IWB set is cheaper than buying computers for each students. Since IWBs are compatible with any software, using a variety of

software can enhance students‟ creativity. Physically, IWBs is cleaner and more effective than traditional board

    because there is no chalk dust, no board cleaning and one-chart constraint. Students like touching board and feeling materials. Its boundaries may be expanded when using other peripherals such as document camera (Bell, 2002).

Challenges of IWBs

    All lessons may be resulted in nothing, if technical problems occur (Gerard & Widener, 2000). BECTA (2003) states two issues related to IWB use: Teachers feel a pressure concerning being well-prepared for class continuously (Cogill, 2002) and students‟ motivation may decrease when students are familiar to IWB. Hutchinson

    (2007) examined problems in two parts: a) Technical problems including IWB-computer connections, stylus problems, calibration problems, display problems, b) Resource availability including finding materials and appropriate software, making use of other teachers‟ material and so forth. IWB means additional cost to schools

    comparing only projector and computer set and the ones except for infrared or ultrasound technologies have an electronic surface that may be damaged (Brown, 2003). In most cases, students suffer from an inappropriate sight. Sunlight shining may sometimes be an obstacle for students while the position of IWB as another problem may prevent from seeing properly (Hall & Higgins, 2005). Somyürek, Atasoy & Özdemir (2009) call attention to the fact that teachers cannot find related materials for their courses and get technical support and maintenance service.

Promoting Learning with IWB Tips & Techniques for Users

    It is vital for teachers to be aware of new techniques and effective teaching strategies usable with IWBs (Glover et al., 2007). IWBs can be used in various ways, containing by learners individually or as groups, with or without a teacher. Depending on users‟ role, interests and necessities of target group, characteristics of subjects, and

    potential of IWB hardware and software, various strategies can be put into practice. It is known that there are tens of different uses of IWB. Beauchamp & Parkinson (2005) suggested five challenging teaching strategies: Capturing

    (copying from other programs or pictures), emphasizing (e.g. spotlight function, large text), storing (storing

    flipcharts and using them later), annotating and modifying (using pen functions as a mouse), linking (linking to other

    flipcharts, programs or web pages). For teachers, they also stated several solutions for those challenges including storing animations as a video, initiating group discussions about course content, urging those groups to make a presentation or to guess about what the hiding part of picture is, and revealing students the correct science for improving interaction with IWBs (Beauchamp & Parkinson, 2005). IWB materials do not need to be correct, complete, or able to do everything in order to give students an opportunity to reflect on and interact with materials. Teachers also don‟t need to design complex materials include everything, instead they can use e-books, pictures or

    web-pages properly. Regarding appropriate IWB use, Cogill (2002) recommended several techniques such as placing lesson based on previous and following lessons, utilizing various visual elements, animations etc. to explain a subject, trying to get attention of learners with interesting objects, giving the responsibilities of students‟ learning

    to themselves and urging them to work independently or to collaborate with each other via IWB. BECTA (2006) categorized strategies concerning IWB use into two ways: enhancing classroom discussion and modeling,

    demonstrating and annotating. The first strategy includes the following techniques: a) using a picture as a stimulus for discussion, b) using written prompts, c) brainstorming, d) asking the right questions, e) sharing expertise, f) sorting, and g) text-disclosure activities while the second one contains drag-and-drop activities, annotation, shared reading, collaborative writing, collaborative problem solving, peer teaching.

     Smith et al. (2005) stated that whole class game playing activities over IWB were quite useful for both promoting learning and getting attention. Teachers should use general IWB techniques such as drag and drop, hide

    and reveal, color and highlighting, matching items, movement or animation, immediate feedback with their students

    conveniently. According to Miller, Glover and Averis (2005), all these actions have a potential to enhance interactivity as well. Glover et al. (2007) expressed that state of the art technology can not result in improving learning by itself. Teachers are also required to be trained in order to establish proper connections among interaction and cognitive and conceptual development in their field. In example, if teachers are not sure whether students understand a particular concept, they can initiate a discussion about the concept. In his article, Tolley (n.d.), mentioned about 12 instructional techniques for teachers concerning IWB use and he particularly suggest teachers to make use of effectively handwriting recognition software, reveal, part-reveal techniques, mind-mapping, bubble diagrams, Venn-diagrams, various hyperlinks, “what happens next?” scenarios, and concept maps.

    As Hall and Higgins (2005) stated new generation learners need to make their all senses including oral, visual, and especially tactile active while learning and teachers should strive to address those senses of their students using IWB. Therefore teachers should act with this conscious during the teaching and learning processes.


    There has been a great deal of investment on buying and training activities of IWBs in all over the world particularly for the last decade. That‟s why it is suggested for teachers to accept IWB as an effective tool for their courses and struggle to develop its usage to a higher level. For providing this, teachers had better become aware of the advantages, disadvantages, types and features of IWBs and IWB training program may contain more pedagogical approaches rather than technological aspects of IWB about how to use IWB in classrooms. Since one of the major obstacles to IWB use is to find or create IWB materials, institutions and vendors may design portals or material repositories in which users can access freely and search materials eligible for their needs.


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